Film Review – For a Good Time, Call…
Ah, the ideal roommate. Tidy. Respectful of your privacy. Understands the importance of T.P. upkeep. If you’ve ever had a roommate (and I’ve had a few), you know to consider camaraderie a bonus. After all, it’s not like she ever drunkenly doused you with a cup of her own urine.
For a Good Time,Call…,opening today, explores these avenues and ends up being pretty damn charming while doing so. Lauren (Lauren Miller, who also co-wrote) and Katie (Ari Graynor, The Sitter) are introduced as at-odds acquaintances unexpectedly reunited ten years after an awkward incident in college (hint: it involves urine). Lauren’s boyfriend unceremoniously dumps her and she finds herself in fast need of a roommate. Katie, meanwhile, is way behind on rent in an awesomely located Manhattan apartment inherited from her grandmother. Their boisterous mutual friend (Justin Long) gradually convinces them to let bygones be bygones, and Lauren moves in.
Before long, Lauren discovers that Katie maintains three jobs to make ends meet, one of which is as a phone sex operator. After learning her own dream job as a publishing something-or-other isn’t the sure thing she thought it was, Lauren convinces Katie to cut out the middleman and establish her own phone line, getting her own cut as manager in exchange. The movie then gets a case of the cameos, as we’re given brief glimpses of Katie’s phone clientele. I’ll leave them a surprise outside of Seth Rogen’s (revealed in the trailer), if only to warn you it’s the weakest cameo of the bunch. Lauren Miller is Rogen’s real-life wife, so his appearance here isn’t exactly shocking, but given the material on display, I can only hope it wasn’t intended as a sales booster.
This is not to take away from what DOES work here, which essentially begins and ends with the breezy chemistry between Miller and Graynor. While I never fully bought their BFF transition, it’s nearly impossible not to grin as the positive effects of each other’s company begin to surface. Even once plunging into the vulgar, vulgar dialogue a plot like this requires, their characters maintain a playful and fun screen presence that proves to be quite infectious.
Because this is a movie, obstacles soon arise. Katie’s flirty relationship with a long-time caller leads to a confession even a casually observant viewer will see coming from a mile away. Lauren gets another shot at her dream job while also juggling unannounced drop-ins from her parents (Don McManus and Mimi Rogers, making the most of their limited screen time) and ex-boyfriend. The tension between the two soon boils over and hurtful words are flung. None of this really resonates, as it’s clear from the get-go how things will end up. The journey getting there, though, is undeniably fun. Raunchy fun, sure, but nicely balanced with dabs of sweetness and at least a few belly laughs to boot.
The surprise runaway success of 2011’s Bridesmaids seems to have opened the door for female-centric comedies unafraid to get their hands dirty, to varying degrees of success. Seeing this year’s similar-in-vein Bachelorette top the iTunes movies chart before even hitting theaters just goes to show that there is most definitely an audience for it. In fact, a woman sitting directly behind me declared For a Good Time the “most hilarious movie of the year,” and I didn’t detect a trace of irony. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but am happy to report For a Good Time, Call… makes good on its trailer’s promise of being a fun little sex comedy. I look forward to seeing what Lauren Miller has in store for us in the future, as she is a clear talent, both on screen and off. Trust me when I say you could do a lot worse this summer (read: The Apparition).
Final Grade: B
Also, be sure to check out our interview with director Jamie Travis & writer/producer Katie Anne Naylon and our interview with actress/producer Ari Graynor & actress/writer/producer Lauren Miller.